UAE banks have been advised by The Central Bank to grant temporary deferrals on monthly loan payments and to reduce fees and commissions for customers affected by the coronavirus.

The apex bank said it had set up a committee along with UAE Banks Federation to ensure consumer protection and safeguard the stability of the bank sector.

“To mitigate the effect of coronavirus on credit, financial institutions are expected to implement measures such as re-scheduling of loans contracts, granting temporary deferrals on monthly loan payments, and reducing fees and commissions for affected customers. Banks and finance companies remain fully responsible for their credit decisions,” the Central Bank said in a statement released on Saturday.

As many as 19 people in the UAE have been diagnosed with coronavirus. Six people were added in the list of people who were tested positive for the virus on the weekend. The infected people were nationals of Iran, Bahrain and China.

The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, DoH-AD affirmed that laboratory tests conducted for 167 cases of quarantined contacts of two cases of Coronavirus, COVID-19, announced on Thursday, have returned negative.

Other Gulf countries have also confirmed cases of coronavirus. In Iran, the death toll had risen to 43 amid 593 confirm cases on Saturday.

In China, around 2,835 people have died while more than 79,000 have been tested positive for the virus.

The UAE Central Bank said financial institutions in the UAE are well-capitalised and are in a good position to support customers that have been affected by Coronavirus, without jeopardising their own safety and soundness.

To ensure the readiness of UAE’s financial sector for a potential worsening of the situation, Central Bank also advised that all banks and finance companies review and update their business continuity plans.

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